Author: Brenda Holland

Highlights of Greece 2015

May 2015 trip to Greece and Turkey. Below are my top 5 personal highlights of Greece. I will follow soon with my list of high points of Turkey. Food For some reason food always seems to find its way in my “best of” blogs. I made a list of “must try foods” before leaving on my journey and I wasn’t disappointed: calamari (fresh), real Greek yogurt, baklava, fried sardines, and olives. I even found that I enjoyed eggplant and stuffed grape leaves, items I don’t normally care for. No ships! Unbelievable, but yes, there were no other cruise ships in the ports until the last day arriving in Istanbul. Timing and pre-season was on our side. Normally, there could be 3-4 large passenger ships sharing the island ports of calls. Yay for shoulder season! The craziest thing of all was at embarkation. When the 4 of us were dropped off at the Piraeus port terminal, we were greeted at the van by two welcoming Windstar representatives pointing us in the right direction. We were relieved because we thought we were at the wrong place since there was absolutely no crowd of other cars or buses around. Inside the terminal not a single soul besides the people working there! I kept looking around in disbelief that we were the only passengers checking-in to board the ship (or yacht, as they...

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7 Things You Should Know About Travel Insurance

First off, I am a travel agent and not an insurance expert. This list is general, because there are many variations and plans available. I hope to give you just a little more understanding and knowledge about what kind of questions to ask when looking to purchase travel insurance. What a typical insurance plan covers– Sickness, injury, death, or death in the family. Coverage is for cancellation prior to and during the trip. If you need medical attention, or if there is an emergency back home that would cause you to end the trip early, this is called trip interruption. Most policies provide coverage for your major travel expenses, including some medical coverage, emergency evacuation, and baggage loss or delay. Missed connections due to weather and flight delays are another issue of concern and are covered in many insurance plans. Points to know: • To be covered for pre-existing medical conditions, you must generally purchase insurance within 2 weeks of deposit. This is true even if you are just putting down a $100 deposit on a $2000 trip and final payment is 8 months away. Lately, though, some cruise line insurance plans will let you purchase the policy when you make final payment. • In some cases, especially for travelers over 70 years old, a cruise line insurance plan can be quite a bit less than one offered by...

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Choosing an All-Inclusive Resort

I now can say that I have stayed at, visited, and toured several all-inclusive resorts. My last trip when I stayed at a great all-inclusive on the Mayan Riviera was fantastic, and it may have even nudged its way up in rank over a cruise. In my opinion, this is the best vacation choice when needing some downtime and relaxation. I have learned that all-inclusive resorts are not all the same. Although their structure is basically beach, swimming pools, food and bars, they really can be very different. Just like cruise ships, they have been evolving and updating too. Some can feel very garden and jungle-like with birds and iguanas, while others have a young South Beach Miami/Las Vegas ambiance. I’m also noticing more resorts focusing on health and wellness featuring smoothie bars, California lite cuisine, quality fitness centers, and outdoor training circuits. Some questions to ask yourself and to relay to your travel planner when choosing a resort – Swimmable beach or swimming pool, what’s more important? Beach shade (from cabanas or palm trees)–nice for sleeping, reading, or keeping kids out the direct sun? Room location? Ocean-front or garden view each have benefits. Ocean-front is great, but remember direct sun can make it hot in your room and on your balcony, plus you better have good dark curtains/shades for keeping out the morning sun. Garden view is obviously...

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Escorted Tours Designed for Families

Escorted tours for families are a fairly new market concept. In the last few years several leading tour operators have begun to reach out to families traveling with school age children, as well as to grandparents who like to travel with grandchildren. Escorted tours have also become known for attracting retired folks. Tour operators have taken escorted tours and made them kid-friendly, involving them in cultural activities, and introducing them to natural wonders in an active, learning, and doing way. Some of the most popular destinations are Australia, Europe, China, and the U.S. National Parks. As an example, Disney Adventures has even added long weekend trips to cities such as San Francisco, New York, and Nashville. Some of the unique activities you’ll see in a European itinerary are speedboat rides on the Thames River, Harry Potter castle tours, and a scavenger hunt at the Louvre museum. Family tours at other destinations include hikes in Yosemite, a pizza party with s’mores at a campfire on Lake Powell, or a visit to a Dude Ranch outside of San Antonio, Texas. For busy parents with not a lot of time to plan, escorted tours are stress-free and can feature: Experienced guides Tours which are all-inclusive of activities/excursions and most meals Pre-paying the trip in advance Traveling with other families so that kids have built-in new friends …because after all: Happy kids on...

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Visiting Jamaica…Ya Mon!

I have just returned from a few days in Jamaica, where I attended a travel agent tour of resorts. I would like to share a couple of tidbits on what Montego Bay and the Ocho Rios area have to offer. The Lay of the Land— Sangster International airport in Montego Bay is the major airport, where 95% of passengers arrive. Montego Bay has several resorts and from there you can go west about 1 ½ hours to the Negril area or about 1 ½ hours east to the Ocho Rios area. The one big difference I learned about these two areas is that Negril area resorts are all about the white sand beaches. I didn’t see Negril, I only toured Montego Bay and the Ocho Rios area. I heard someone say the two can be compared to the difference between Cancun and the Mayan Riviera. The resort beaches I saw at both Montego Bay and Ocho Rios were coves with quiet waves (good for swimming with children), although a little jagged and rocky, with landscapes that are tropical with trees and flowering bushes. Cruise ships dock on this east side of the island and there are many activities for excursions.  What To See and Do— Dunn’s River Falls and river tubing Horseback riding, swimming with dolphins, night kayaking in the luminous lagoon Mystic Mountain–chairlift to the top of the...

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